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America's as Happy with Obama as it was with Jimmy Carter

You know who this helps? Anyone running against Barack Obama.

It's February, nine months before a presidential election, and only 22 percent of Americans say they are satisfied with the way things are going. Voters haven't been this unhappy with the country since George H.W. Bush's presidency, when only 21 percent of Americans reported being happy with the country's direction. And before that, the lowest approval rating was 19 percent during Jimmy Carter's first term.

What do the two presidencies have in common? Neither of them won re-election. And, if the trends holds true, Obama looks to be in an equally precarious situation.

Hold that thought, and then consider this: At this point in 1980, Carter held a 63-32 lead over Ronald Reagan, a man whom many in Washington and the chattering class had written off as "unelectable." He was crazy, they said, not to be trusted with his finger on the button. Why, he'll start World War III with the Soviets!

Today, Obama's lead over the potential GOP nominees is mostly in the single digits. His donations are down to the point that he's raffling himself off as a $2 date. Gas prices are rising, with his own weak foreign policy and his anti-oil attitudes easily blamed because those policies have a lot to do with what's happening. Hint: If it was bad to have a president with ties to oil and gas, as the Democrats argued against George W. Bush, why then is it good to have a president who has set himself up as an enemy of oil and gas? Say what you want about the relative merits of their backgrounds, but gas was a heckuva lot cheaper with Bush in the White House.

With gas price going up, the price of everything else goes up too. Most Americans aren't paying that much attention to the presidential race yet, but they're paying attention to the carnage on their gas and grocery bills. And they know that, at some level, Barack Obama's policies have a lot to do with that. That doesn't make him dead in the water. It does make him ripe for defeat.

Downside: Once Obama isn't re-elected, we'll have two America-hating Gollums out there trashing the country that wisely booted them.